Welcome song

Here’s your Mom, here’s your Dad.
Welcome to being their flesh and blood.
Why do you look so sad?

Here’s your food, here’s your drink.
Also some thoughts, if you care to think.
Welcome to everything.

Here’s your practically clean slate.
Welcome to it, though it’s kind of late.
Welcome at any rate.

Here’s your paycheck, here’s your rent.
Money is nature’s fifth element.
Welcome to every cent.

Here’s your swarm and your huge beehive.
Welcome to that there’s roughly five
billion like you alive.

Welcome to the phone book that stars your name
Digits are democracy’s secret aim.
Welcome to your claim to fame.

Here’s your marriage, and here’s divorce.
Now that’s the order you can’t reverse.
Welcome to it; up yours.

Here’s your blade, here’s your wrist.
Welcome to playing your own terrorist;
call this your Middle East.

Here’s your mirror, your dental gleam.
Here’s an octopus in your dream.
Why do you try to scream?

Here’s your corn-cob, your TV set.
Your candidate suffering an upset.
Welcome to what he said.

Here’s your porch, see the cars pass by.
Here’s your shitting dog’s guilty eye.
Welcome to its alibi.

Here are your cicadas, then a chickadee,
the bulb’s dry tear in your lemon tea.
Welcome to infinity.

Here are your pills on the plastic tray,
Your disappointing, crisp X-ray.
You are welcome to pray.

Here’s your cemetery, a well kept glen.
Welcome to a voice that says, “Amen.”
The end of the rope, old man.

Here’s your will, and here’s a few
takers. Here’s an empty pew.
Here’s life after you.

And here are your stars which appear still keen
on shining as though you had never been.
They might have a point, old bean.

Here’s your afterlife, with no trace
of you, especially of your face.
Welcome, and call it space.

Welcome to where one cannot breathe.
This way, space resembles what’s underneath
and Saturn holds the wreath.

Joseph Brodsky


Enjoying Porto’s sunsets and making Monday’s poetry late again.



even though it isn’t mine


even though I feel at home in most places I travel to, even though I can’t wait to leave, even though it now looks mostly as a theme park, I sometimes can’t help but feel that Porto  belongs to me because I belong to it.


Truman Capote

Não fora o Mar

Não fora o mar,

e eu seria feliz na minha rua,

neste primeiro andar da minha casa

a ver, de dia, o sol, de noite a lua,

calada, quieta, sem um golpe de asa.

Não fora o mar,

e seriam contados os meus passos,

tantos para viver, para morrer,

tantos os movimentos dos meus braços,

pequena angústia, pequeno prazer.

Não fora o mar,

e os seus sonhos seriam sem violência

como irisadas bolas de sabão,

efémero cristal, branca aparência,

e o resto — pingos de água em minha mão.

Não fora o mar,

e este cruel desejo de aventura

seria vaga música ao sol pôr

nem sequer brasa viva, queimadura,

pouco mais que o perfume duma flor.

Não fora o mar

e o longo apelo, o canto da sereia,

apenas ilusão, miragem,

breve canção, passo breve na areia,

desejo balbuciante de viagem.

Não fora o mar

e, resignada, em vez de olhar os astros

tudo o que é alto, inacessível, fundo,

cimos, castelos, torres, nuvens, mastros,

iria de olhos baixos pelo mundo.

Não fora o mar

e o meu canto seria flor e mel,

asa de borboleta, rouxinol,

e não rude halali, garra cruel,

Águia Real que desafia o sol.

Não fora o mar

e este potro selvagem, sem arção,

crinas ao vento, com arreio,

meu altivo, indomável coração,

Não fora o mar

e comeria à mão,

não fora o mar

e aceitaria o freio.

Fernanda de Castro, in “Trinta e Nove Poemas”

I couldn’t find a translation of this poem. I did try to translate it myself and I think I ended up mutilating it because I was not able to translate the feeling of disquiet a lifetime staring at the sea actually has over ourselves. In the midst of all the routines, broken illusions and plans that have not been fulfilled, you can’t help yourself. You don’t surrender.

It weren’t for the sea,

and I would be happy on my street,

on this first floor of my house

to see, by day, the sun, at night the moon,

quiet, quiet, without a blow of the wing.

It weren’t for the sea,

and my steps would be numbered,

so many to live, to die,

so many movements of my arms,

little anguish, little pleasure.

It weren’t for the sea,

and your dreams would be without violence

like iridescent soap bubbles,

ephemeral crystal, white appearance,

and the rest – drops of water in my hand.

It weren’t for the sea,

and this cruel desire for adventure

would be vague music in the sun

not even live coal, burning,

little more than the perfume of a flower.

It weren’t for the sea

and the long appeal, the mermaid’s song,

only illusion, mirage,

brief song, brief step in the sand,

bursts of travel.

It weren’t for the sea

and, resigned, instead of looking at the stars

everything that is high, inaccessible, deep,

high, castles, towers, clouds, masts,

would be travelling face down through the world.

It weren’t for the sea

and my song would be flower and honey,

butterfly wing, nightingale,

and not rude halali, cruel claw,

Royall eagle defying the sun.

It weren’t for the sea

and this wild colt,

mane in the wind, harnessed,

my haughty, indomitable heart,

It weren’t for the sea

and I would eat out of hand,

It weren’t for the sea,

and would accept the bridle.

Out of step

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1874)
Photo taken at Black Mamba – Burgers & Records, a very cool vegan burger place in Porto

Take from my palms


Take from my palms, to soothe your heart,
a little honey, a little sun,
in obedience to Persephone’s bees.

You can’t untie a boat that was never moored,
nor hear a shadow in its furs,
nor  move through thick life without fear.

For us, all that’s left is kisses
tattered as the little bees
that die when they leave the hive.

Deep in the transparent night they’re still humming,
at home in the dark wood on the mountain,
in the mint and lungwort and the past.

But lay to your heart my rough gift,
this unlovely dry necklace of dead bees
that once made a sun out of honey.

Osip Mandelstam, Selected Poems